Recycling Batteries and Winter Bird Feeding


Continuing my series on subjects of interest to men, but obviously pertinent to all, below are two questions from a male reader.

Question:  What can I do with old batteries?  Is it necessary to recycle them? Alan C., Loon, NH

Answer:  In 1997 Congress mandated a mercury phase-out plan for all types of batteries. Some people think since they no longer pose as great a threat to the environment as before, they can simply be thrown away with your trash.  Some communities even recommend throwing them away.

Regardless of whether there is less mercury, it is important to recycle all single-use batteries –  AA’s, AAA’s, C, D and 9-volt.  The batteries still contain trace elements of mercury as well as other possibly toxic materials; they don’t biodegrade and they take up space in the landfill.  Any batteries from earlier than 1997 contain 10 times the amount of mercury in newer batteries and should be taken to hazardous waste collection in your town.

How do you recycle them?  Some towns accept single use batteries as household hazardous waste and many battery companies like Batteries Plus will take spent, disposable batteries for recycling free of charge.   Earth911.org is a great website for finding out how to recycle just about everything including batteries.  Go to “Recycling Guides/Electronics/Single Use Batteries/Recycling Locator” and enter your zip code to find locators near you.

Rechargeable batteries from cell phones, MP3 players and laptops, contain potentially toxic heavy metals and should never be thrown away with your trash.  Again, most communities have an outlet for recycling or disposal, but if not, go to www.call2recycle.org/program-info/.  Hope this helps!

Question:  I like to feed the birds.  Any suggestions for bird food other than seed?  How do you make seut?  Alan C., Loon, NH

Answer:  Bird feeding and bird watching are great entertainment, especially in winter!  Peanut butter, cornmeal, meal worms and fruits and fruit seeds can be food for birds.  Most kinds of beef fat, also called suet, can be safely fed to birds and is attractive especially to woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, jays and starlings.  Animal fat, a high-energy food, is easily digested and metabolized by many birds.  Beware – raw suet becomes rancid when temperatures are above freezing, so it should only be fed to birds in winter in a cold climate.

Below is an easy recipe from the Old Farmer’s Almanac for making your own suet.

Suet Cake

  • 2 parts melted fat (bacon fat, suet, or lard)
  • 2 parts yellow cornmeal
  • 1 part peanut butter

Mix all ingredients together and cook for a few minutes.  Pour into small containers (tuna fish cans are perfect), and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Mixture can also be stuffed into 1-inch holes drilled in small logs to hang from trees.  The recipe can be made all year long as long as you accumulate fat.  Fasten containers securely to trees or feeders.  Enjoy!

Information compiled from: http://environment.about.com/od/recycling/a/batteryrecycle.htm

http://www.almanac.com/content/bird-food-recipe-suet

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=1180

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Betsy, what do you know about recycling light bulbs that contain mercury? I just had one burn out and don’t know what to do with it. The packaging doesn’t give any suggestions, but just says “do it.” Thanks for any help or direction.

    Reply

    • Hi Patricia – I recycle my CFL lightbulbs (which contain mercury) at Whole Foods. But here is a link to Earth911.org’s recycling locator for CFL bulbs -http://earth911.com/recycling/cfl/. You simply put in your zip code and it will locate CFL recycling centers near you. The mercury in CFL bulbs is definitely the down side. Fortunately LEDs are now readily available and cost effective for the home. Time to make the switch! Good luck -

      Reply

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